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Pistol Pete on Larry Bird: “I can name several coaches who said Larry Bird would never make it in the NBA”


In the Up Close interview with Roy Firestone, the basketball Great Pistol Pete Maravich reflects on some fascinating, mythical moments from his legendary career. In one of the most intriguing questions, Firestone asked Maravich about the player he was frequently compared with – Larry Bird

“The parallels are stunning – great, white, pure shooters. Basically, country boys. Tragedies growing up – both lost parents to suicide.”

Roy Firestone, ESPN Up Close

The two spend their lone season together with the 1979-90 Boston Celtics. That was Bird’s rookie season with the Celtics and Maravich’s final season of his 10-year long NBA career.

"I think he is the best, you know. Larry is not really the best rebounder in the NBA; he is not really the best passer, I don't think, he's not the best dribbler, he's not the best shooter, he's not the best scorer. He's just the very best."

Pete Maravich, ESPN Up Close

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Then Maravich tried to identify the qualities that made Bird the best white player of the 20th century, and perhaps the greatest ever as far as an influence on the game's evolution is concerned.

"And the reason for that, Roy, is the fact that you can do more than play with your feet. I can name several coaches who said Larry Bird would never make it in the NBA because he was too slow-footed. But there are certain players with the instinct, like Larry Bird, a guy like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that are so far above anyone else because of the way they think the game of basketball. You can't practice that. That's just something that is god-given, and Larry Bird has that."

Pete Maravich, ESPN Up Close

Maravich concluded his statement on the 1980s NBA superstar by saying that Bird is perhaps not the greatest player ever but was, in his own opinion, the best player at the time interview took place.

"As far as comparing him to me, I couldn't compare him to me at all. I don't like comparisons at all. But I think he is perhaps the best player today playing the game. I don't think he is the best ever because that leaves my son out, but other than that, I do think that he is the best playing today. And, of course, I don't like comparisons, you can't compare him with Kareem. I think you can compare centers; you can compare guards; you can compare forwards."

Pete Maravich, ESPN Up Close

The legacy of legendary Pistol, who tragically died on January 5th, 1988, was succeeded by his sons Jaeson and Josh. Both played the game at the college level but were not able to make it to the NBA.

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